A disease caused by the virus Variola, smallpox was so named to distinguish it from the “great pox”, or syphilis. It could be fatal, killing two million people per year in the 1960s, and the blisters that formed on the skin frequently left crater-like scars. A successful worldwide vaccination campaign led to the complete eradication of smallpox. The last known case occurred in 1978.
John Perceval (1711-1770), 2 nd Earl of Egmont, was a cabinet minister and close adviser to George III and the Prince of Wales. He has one other claim to fame. In 1762, the same year that he became First Lord of the Admiralty, he fathered his seventh son, Spencer Perceval, who went on to become the only British Prime Minister ever to be assassinated.
From 1767 to 1832, Nevil Maskelyne’s Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris was published by the Royal Greenwich Observatory. In 1832, publication was transferred to HM Nautical Almanac Office. The HMNAO was located at Greenwich until 1937, when it transferred with the Observatory to Herstmonceux in Sussex. It is now part of the UK Hydrographic Office in Somerset. Since 1960, the HMNAO and the US Naval Observatory have jointly published a single Nautical Almanac.
It may have been triumphant, but James Cook’s second voyage failed in its primary objective: to find “Terra Australis”, a mythical continent believed to be located in the Southern Ocean. Instead, Cook circumnavigated the globe west-to-east, explored extensively within the Antarctic Circle, and claimed South Georgia for Britain.
Sauerkraut is cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria, which impart the sour taste. It is a traditional part of German, Russian and East European cuisines, and is made by fermenting salted shredded cabbage in stone jars for up to a month.
The book can be viewed
online. Here’s a sample passage:
A certain fize is beft for the pallets, or rather a certain proportion between the diameter of the circle de- fcribed by the edge of the pallets and the diameter of the balance-wheel. This was firft fuggefted to Mr. Harrifon from bell-ringing; for he could bring the bell better into a motion, by touching it from time to time fomewhere near the centre than near the circumference; becaufe in the firft cafe his hand moved quick enough to follow the bell.
George III (1738-1820) was the first of the Hanoverian kings to be born in Britain and speak English as a first language. His 60-year reign saw great military successes against France in the Seven Years War and then the Napoleonic Wars, but also the loss of the American colonies in the Revolutionary War. He suffered recurring mental illness, most likely caused by porphyria – a blood disease which turns the urine blue – with the consequence that a regency, with his eldest son as de facto ruler, was established for the last ten years of his life.
He was dubbed “Farmer George” for his great interest in agriculture; his love of science saw him collect mathematical and scientific instruments, as well as fund the largest telescope yet built – used in 1781 to discover Uranus.
He is the subject of the film, The Madness of King George. A comic portrayal by Hugh Laurie of House-fame can be found in the Blackadder III series.
The King’s Observatory at Richmond – or Kew Observatory – was designed by Sir William Chambers and built of Portland Stone with a moveable dome, in time for the transit of Venus in 1769. London’s official time was set from calculations made here, until that responsibility passed to Greenwich. The Observatory was closed in 1841, and today is used by the Meteorological Office for weather observations.
Lodestone is a permanently and powerfully magnetic form of magnetite that was used to magnetize compasses. It occurs naturally, possibly as the result of lightning strikes. Vikings and 12th-century Chinese navigated by lodestone compasses.
Frederick North (1732-1792), 2nd Earl of Guilford, was Prime Minister for twelve years from 1770. He oversaw the first “Falklands Crisis”, when the Spanish attempted to seize the Islands. In this he was successful, but his premiership was dogged by the American War of Independence, and he became the first Prime Minister anywhere in the world to be forced out of office by a vote of No Confidence.
Lono is the
Hawaiian god of peace.
He was said to have down to Earth on a rainbow.
A four-month festival, Makahiki, was held every year in his honour, during which war and unnecessary work were forbidden.
As Cook’s first visit occurred during this festival, his pleasant reception may have been due to the embargo on fighting.
His subsequent appearance was not so well timed.
Hunter S Thompson wrote a book about his visit to Hawaii, when he believed himself to be Lono reincarnated:
The Curse of Lono.